SBJ/May 14-20, 2012/Franchises

Bills to keep Toronto dates with coming extension

The Bills’ game in Toronto this season is  scheduled for Dec. 16 against Seattle.
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Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The NFL’s international committee could vote as soon as this week to extend the Buffalo Bills’ series of games in Toronto.

The current five-year authorization ends after the 2012 season, but the league, Buffalo and Rogers Communications, which owns the Rogers Centre, are poised to renew the games.

“Our regionalization efforts are vital to keeping our franchise strong,” said Bills CEO Russ Brandon. “We are continuing to work with Rogers Communications to extend our agreement to play Bills games at Rogers Centre. Our fan base continues to grow significantly in southern Ontario, which is a benefit for games played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, as well. Maintaining a presence in Toronto will help our organization continue to strengthen its foothold in the region.”

Under the current agreement, the Bills will have played one regular-season game annually in Toronto and two preseason games over five years. The new deal would largely mimic that arrangement.

The Bills are scheduled to play Seattle on Dec. 16 in Toronto for this season’s game.

A source said that no more than one game annually is necessary to provide the economic boost needed to keep the Bills viable in Buffalo. While attendance has been lower in Toronto than for games in Buffalo, Rogers pays the team a set fee for the games.

NFL owners in March agreed to delegate to the international committee the decision on renewing the Bills series in Toronto. The committee is expected to meet this week.

Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said discussions were ongoing with the Bills about extending the club’s deal in Toronto. “While I am cautiously optimistic, we have nothing to announce at this time,” he said. “We are focusing our efforts on this year’s game and look forward to the Bills returning to Rogers Centre this season.”

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